I’ll assume that by now you’ve already been convinced of the glory of chicken thighs over chicken breasts (cheaper AND 10 times more tender and flavorful) and so I’ll spend this space instead advocating for the merits of working ahead. You know those friends of yours who seem to have it all? Fulfilling jobs, active families, a wide circle of friends, good health, lovely homes? I’ll bet my chicken thighs that they work ahead: they exercise before the day gets crazy, they complete projects ahead of deadlines, they clean up as they go. I of course rarely pull off any of these things, however—I try to. And when I do, I am so grateful for the little gift I gave my future self. I promise myself to do it more often, and sometimes I actually achieve it.
And so I share with you this easy little dish, which can absolutely be assembled up to 24 hours before you cook it. Roasting the chicken thighs atop sweet potatoes (or potatoes, if you prefer) yields crispy, tender chicken atop rich, crusty potatoes, scented with your favorite summer herbs and aromatics (very flexible, mix it up as you see fit). The leftovers are fantastic reheated—(try reheating a chicken breast, ba!)—which means a delectable lunch at your desk the next day.
I choose actual sweet potatoes—which have a rather white skin—instead of yams, which are deep orange, and often called sweet potatoes even though they aren’t. Sweet potatoes are starchier and less sweet—more similar to a standard potato. I’m sure you could make the dish with yams, you’ll just have a sweeter, softer result.
I put the make-aheadness of this dish to good use this past weekend, when my son graduated from high school. What a bittersweet time! So exciting to see the seniors off on new adventures, so sad to bid the school, teachers, and many parents farewell as the adults move on to new adventures as well. Congratulations and best wishes to all of you giddy graduates and tear-wiping parents!
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs
Adapted from a Simply Recipes recipe
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly (with a mandoline or sharp knife)
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (or other favorite fresh herb), divided
1 cup thinly sliced lacinato kale (or Brussels sprouts or Swiss chard)
1 garlic clove, minded (or shallot or ramps)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, kale, garlic, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and a few generous pinches of salt and combine (I use my hands) to coat the potatoes with oil. Spread the mixture evenly in a deep-dish pie plate.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange across the top of the potatoes. Drizzle chicken and top layer of potatoes with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle with the remaining rosemary. (At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.) Bake for 1 hour or until chicken breasts are golden and cooked through and potatoes are tender in the middle and crusty on top (add more time if you’re baking straight from the refrigerator).